EPA fugitive gets prison time for asbestos scam
The former owner of the country’s largest
asbestos abatement training school was sentenced to prison, after
having fled the United States after her trial in November 2008.
District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sentenced Albania Deleon,
41, formerly of Andover, Massachusetts, to 87 months in prison
to be followed by three years of supervised release. She was
also ordered to pay more than $1.2 million in restitution to
the Internal Revenue Service and $369,015 to AIM Mutual Insurance
Company. No level of exposure to asbestos is safe, so removal
by untrained workers, performed without the necessary safeguards,
threatens the health of those workers and the public.
In November 2008, following a three-week trial, Deleon was convicted
of a broad range of charges including that she sold training
certificates to thousands of illegal aliens who had not taken
the mandatory training course. Deleon then placed these unqualified
individuals in temporary employment positions as certified asbestos
abatement workers in public buildings throughout Massachusetts
and New England. Deleon was also convicted of encouraging illegal
aliens to reside in the United States, making false statements
about matters within the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA); procuring false payroll tax returns, and mail fraud.
From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental
Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school
located in Methuen. ECT normally offered training courses on
a weekly basis at its Methuen offices, however, many of the recipients
of the certificates never took the required course. Instead,
with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s office employees
issued certificates of course completion to thousands of individuals
who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates
with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety in order
to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many
of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the
four-day long course so that they would not forego a week’s pay.
Since ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection,
Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates
to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination
answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which
she maintained in ECT’s files. Based on the evidence at trial
and information supplied by the Division of Occupation Safety,
ECT issued training certificates to over 2,000 untrained individuals.
Deleon is the fifth environmental criminal captured since the
EPA fugitive website was launched in December 2008.